Key moments in the story of Kuala Lumpur


By Shalini

OVER the past 50 years, Kuala Lumpur has transformed from a bustling but small capital with a population of just over 600,000 people into a vibrant metropolis housing two million at the heart of Malaysia’s economic and cultural landscape. Here are some of the events the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur has witnessed:

1974

Kuala Lumpur was declared a Federal Territory at 9.46am on Feb 1. The proclamation agreement was signed at Istana Negara between the fifth Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Badlishah, on behalf of the Federal Government, and the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz on behalf of the state government.

1983

Several buildings in Kuala Lumpur were gazetted under Antiquities Act 1976. They included Masjid Jamek, Institute for Medical Research, and Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China buildings.

1986

On April 14, over 100,000 people converged on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman for Malaysian icon Sudirman’s free mega event, “Konsert Chow Kit Road”. It was his way of thanking fans who could not afford to see him perform in person.

1990Kuala Lumpur celebrated 100 years of local council on May 14. The new Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur flag and anthem were introduced.

1991-1996

Construction of Menara Kuala Lumpur, a telecommunications and broadcasting tower, started in October 1991. It stands at 421m above ground level, and opened to the public on July 23, 1996.

1992-1999

The construction of the tallest twin towers in the world – the PETRONAS Twin Towers – started in 1992. It was launched by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1999, becoming an iconic symbol of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline.

1996

Pudu Prison was formally closed in November, after 101 years of operation. The inmates were moved to Sungai Buloh Prison. In 1997, it was opened for a short while for public tours of its cells and facilities. The prison site has since been redeveloped as Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC).

1998

Kuala Lumpur hosted the 16th Commonwealth Games, with the opening ceremony held on Sept 11. It was the first time in its 68-year history that the Games were held in Asia.

2001

Kuala Lumpur Sentral, a major transportation hub and business district in the capital city, was officially opened on June 13. It serves as a central point for various transportation modes including trains, buses and the KLIA Ekspres.

2007

The Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (Smart), a 9.7km storm water tunnel and the world’s first underground double-storey motorway and water channel, opened to motorists. It was initiated to alleviate flooding in the city centre.

2010

On Oct 27, then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh launched Little India in Brickfields. Five years later on Nov 23, 2015, Najib and then Indian prime minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the “Torana Gate” – a symbol of strong ties between the two countries. The RM32mil project was aimed at creating a vibrant Indian heritage and cuisine enclave.

2011 On Nov 15, Istana Negara on Jalan Istana officially ended its function as residence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after 54 years. The new palace is located on Jalan Duta. As a symbolic gesture, Grand Chamberlain Tengku Farok Husin Tengku Abdul Jalil, who represented Istana Negara, directed Istana Negara officer Rosli Asri to lock the main entrance at the former palace to signify that all duties had been completed.

2011

The Federal Government announced plans for the RM4.4bil River of Life project aimed at revitalising Sungai Gombak and Sungai Klang running through the city. The project’s first phase was completed in 2017.

2016

On Dec 16, Phase 1 of MRT Kajang Line spanning 23km from Sungai Buloh to Semantan was opened to the public. Phase 2 of the line opened on July 17, 2017, followed by MRT Putrajaya Line which was fully operational in March 2023.

2017

Ampang Park Shopping Centre, Malaysia’s first shopping mall, ceased operations on Dec 31 after almost 45 years. It was later demolished to make way for the MRT project. An urban skate park is now at the site.

2023

The Exchange TRX in Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur’s latest mall, opened its doors on Nov 29. It is linked to the country’s second tallest building, The Exchange 106, and is the nucleus of the city’s new international financial district.

2024

Menara Merdeka 118, the world’s second tallest tower, officially opened on Jan 10. It is 678.9m tall with 118 floors, with a symbolic spire representing the proclamation of independence by Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj in 1957. The structure stands out prominently in the skyline, altering the city’s visual identity.

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